July 18, 2012

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ABC Kids Expo

Retail Sales See Three Consecutive Months of Decline

Retail sales continued to stall in the month of June as consumers held off on discretionary and non-discretionary spending—marking three consecutive months of retail sales decreases—implying that persistently-high domestic unemployment, stagnant job growth, and international economic unease have taken a toll on American consumers this spring.
According to the National Retail Federation, June retail sales (excluding automobile, gas stations, and restaurants) decreased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted from May but increased 1.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year. This year-over-year increase marks 24 consecutive months of sustained retail sales growth.
June retail sales, released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, showed total retail and food services sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants) decreased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month but increased 3.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Higher Sales Forecasted for the 2012 Back-to-School Season

This year’s back-to-school shopping season is expected to bring more retail foot traffic and higher sales than seen in the previous five years, according to forecasts made by ShopperTrak.
According to the analysis, retailers can expect not only more traffic in stores, but repeat visits and an increase in sales rates. It is estimated that national sales will show an increase of 4 percent compared to last year’s rates. Retail traffic should increase 1.5 percent.
After a sharp decline in 2009, year-over-year back-to-school sales improved only 1.8 percent in 2010 before increasing 4.5 percent in 2011.
Based on the retail sales growth rate within the past 28 months, a four percent increase is predicted.
ShopperTrak partially attributes the growing trend to the recent fall in gas prices.
ShopperTrak measures retail foot traffic in more than 45,000 locations across 74 countries in order to create these sales projections. They claim a three percent accuracy rating. Forecasted numbers may improve or decline with unanticipated changes in the nation’s unemployment rate, consumer sentiment, or gasoline prices.

Hasbro Enters Deal for Transformers Mobile Games

DeNA Co., Ltd., and Hasbro have entered into an exclusive three-year agreement to develop and publish mobile games based on the Transformers franchise. The first Transformers game from DeNA will be released on the Mobage social gaming platform for iOS and Android mobile devices worldwide, with the exception of Japan, later this year.

Meijer to Hold Next Great Toymaker Contest

ToymakerMeijer announced the company’s first ever Next Great Toymaker contest, which will give two small U.S. toymakers the chance for their toy to be sold on Meijer.com this holiday season. A panel of judges will choose the contest finalists. Criteria include uniqueness, educational relevance, creativity, and quality. Eligible toys must fit into one of two age categories: toys for children ages 1 to 3 or 4 to 8 years old. The contest is open to all U.S.-based small toy companies and entrepreneurs with 50 or fewer employees.
More information about the contest and entering is available at http://www.meijer.com/toycontest.

Highlights Launches New Magazine for Babies

HighlightsHighlights for Children, Inc., has launched Highlights Hello, a new magazine for children ages 0 through 2, along with their parents and caregivers. The magazine aims to strengthen the bond between parent and child, support language development, and inspire discovery. Yearly subscriptions are available for order at Highlights.com, with the first issue hitting doorsteps in December.
Highlights Hello will include parenting tips with specific tips to help boost parent and caregiver confidence; Find It, a version of hidden pictures appropriate for babies; Tell Me a Story, Read Me a Poem, Sing Me a Song, and artwork—all targeting a different creative aspect; and expert parenting advice written by pediatricians, psychologists, and educators.

TCG Appoints Katalyst Licensing for Roxx Expansion

RoxxTCG has appointed Katalyst Licensing & Promotions, Inc., as its licensing and merchandising agent for the Roxx brand in Canada. Roxx is the newest collectible, tradeable, playable, head-to-head competitive game of skill, featuring game pieces that appeal to school-aged and tween boys.
Under terms of the deal, Katalyst Licensing & Promotions will represent Roxx for all licensing and merchandising efforts across Canada. Roxx will roll from toys and collectibles into apparel, headwear, footwear, stationery, and plush toys. In addition, Katalyst will implement Roxx promotions in packaged goods and at fast food chains throughout the Canadian provinces and territories.
Designed for children ages 7 and up, the Roxx line includes collectible pieces, carrying and display cases, and additional accessories.

TIF Hosts Fifth Annual Event at Ronald McDonald House of New York

The Toy Industry Foundation hosted a “Cowboy Hoedown” on June 16 for approximately 80 families staying at the Ronald McDonald House of New York, a facility that offers temporary housing for pediatric cancer patients and their families while they undergo treatment. The event, which included a dinner, toy donation, and surprises for the children and their families, was the Foundation’s fifth annual evening of fun hosted at the Manhattan RMH.
Toys and games donated at the event were provided by Hasbro, Funrise, and Reeves International, while dinner was provided by Fairway Market.

MyKaZootv Channel Launches in MobiTV’s Playground TV Pack

MyKaZootvmyKaZootv plans to launch a new channel within MobiTV’s Playground TV pack.
Available across many tier-one carriers, the Playground TV pack offers commercial-free educational children’s programming for a parent’s mobile lifestyle. Dozens of myKaZootv music videos are already available to Playground TV pack subscribers.
myKaZootv features hundreds of music videos featuring original songs by kid-centric artists. Video content includes animation and live concert footage targeted to kids ages 2 to 9.
The launch within the Playground TV pack is the latest in myKaZoo’s ongoing mission to explore new avenues to reach audiences for family music. myKaZootv has also forged partnerships with Kabillion TV On Demand, which reaches more than 40 million digital households, and is available on Comcast, Time Warner, Charter, and local
multiple system operators. Kabillion features a block of myKaZootv videos that is updated weekly.

Mind Candy Appoints New Director of Talent

Mind Candy, the company responsible for Moshi Monsters, has appointed former Playfish executive, Ken Ward as the director of talent. Ward will be responsible for the management of the internal recruitment team and to help build the company’s talent acquisition strategy.
Prior to receiving this position at Mind Candy, he was the people operations director at Playfish, where he has been since 2009. His prior experience covers new media, financial services, and telecommunications, as well as substantial experience in recruitment agency and search.
Mind Candy currently has about 80 positions across tech, accounting, operations, and customer services that they seek to fill.

LeapFrog Appoints Ray Arthur as CFO

LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc., has appointed Ray Arthur as the company’s chief financial officer. Arthur is a 30-year executive, having served as CFO at Toys “R” Us, Inc., and as president and CFO of toysrus.com.
Prior to joining LeapFrog, Arthur served as CFO at The Pep Boys–Manny, Moe, & Jack from 2008 to 2012.

Griddly Games Names Welch Head of Marketing and Operations

Griddly Games, Inc., has appointed Angela Welch head of marketing and operations. Welch will be responsible for managing the day-to-day operations and implementing procedures to deliver the best productivity for the Wise Alec line of games, the new Oversight abstract strategy game, the Griddly Headz sport-themed games, and the Chronicles of the Mind and Words of the Wise brain games.
Welch arrives at Griddly Games from her previous position as promotions representative for Encore Event Staff, where she managed new product introductions and field service market research for a variety of consumer products, including health foods, liquor, and beauty products. A professional photographer, Welch will also involve her talents for the benefit of Griddly Games packaging, product shots, and graphics materials.

Mattel Reports Second Quarter Financial Results

Mattel, Inc., has reported its second quarter financial results. For the quarter, the company reported net income of $96.2 million, or $0.28 per share, compared to last year’s second quarter net income of $80.5 million, or $0.23 per share.
For the quarter, net sales were $1.16 billion, flat compared to last year, including an unfavorable change in currency exchange rates of 4 percentage points.
For the second quarter, worldwide gross sales for Mattel girls and boys brands were $781.6 million, down 1 percent compared to the prior year. Worldwide gross sales for the Barbie brand were up 5 percent. Worldwide gross sales for other girls brands were up 96 percent, primarily driven by Monster High.
Worldwide gross sales for the wheels category, which includes the Hot Wheels, Matchbox, and Tyco R/C brands, were up 9 percent, primarily driven by Hot Wheels. Worldwide gross sales for the entertainment business, which also includes Radica and games, were down 36 percent, primarily driven by decreases in the Cars 2 movie
property.

Jakks Reports Second Quarter Financial Results

Jakks Pacific, Inc., reported results for the company’s second quarter.
Net sales were $145.4 million, up from $131.9 million reported in the comparable period last year. Reported net income for the second quarter was $0.2 million, or $0.01 per diluted share, which includes $1.7 million of pre-tax charges, or $0.05 per diluted share. This compares to net income of $4.2 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, reported in the comparable period last year.
Net sales for the six months ending June 30 were $218.8 million, compared to $204.3 million last year. The net loss reported for the six month period was $15.8 million, or $0.61 per diluted share, which included $3.1 million of pre-tax charges, or $0.09 per diluted share. This compares to a net loss for the first six months of 2011 of $6.3 million, or $0.23 per diluted share, which included $1.2 million, or $0.03 per diluted share, of financial and legal advisory fees and expenses.

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